As the regulation clock neared 0:00, the ball flew across half court towards Shawnee Heights senior Tyler White. Just before the buzzer, White reached up, grabbed the ball and layed it in to tie the game up at 48, sending the game to overtime.
Shawnee Heights (3-4, 1-3 Centennial League) capitalized on the momentum gained from its half-court-alley-oop, beating Manhattan High (4-3, 1-2 Centennial League) 62-57 in overtime.
“We got to figure out how to win a close game,” head coach Benji George said. “Those are the things you do if you want to lose a close game, you miss free throws, you turn the ball over and you don’t get rebounds. We did all three of those things poorly.”
The loss was Manhattan’s second straight nail-bitter. For the Indians, the Shawnee Heights loss came down to coachability.
“Coach really harped on coachability [after the game],” senior John Ostermann said. “After the first half, we went in the locker room and talked about what we needed to do to execute on offense to break their zone, and we didn’t do it, so that was a big statement that he said.”
MHS led the close game early on, never leading by more than six points. For the Indians, defense was key, but the intensity began to fade as the game went on.
“[The defense] was hit and miss,” George said. “I thought we strung together some good possessions. I did not like our rebounding, I thought [SHHS sophomore Marquis Barksdale] was a lot tougher than anybody we had. I just didn’t feel like we were moving like we should have been and our ball screen coverage got worse as the game went along.”
Barksdale helped the Thunderbirds keep the game close, nearly matching MHS’ second quarter output with 11 points in that quarter. Manhattan led just 25-23 at the half.
Neither team held any real advantage in the third quarter, though MHS grew its lead by one. The Indians began to control the game in the fourth quarter, growing its lead to 44-39 with just 1:33 left in the game.
However, Manhattan missed some free throws, allowing Shawnee Heights to stay in the game. With a two-point lead, senior Nate Awbrey made both ends of a 1-and-1, pushing MHS’ lead to 47-43.
SHHS got the ball and drove the length of the court, working it to the left side of the court. Sophomore Isaiah Bonjour got the ball, pulled up and shot his only shot of the night: a made 3-pointer with :00.6 left in the game.
However, there was an issue. In conjunction with a delay-of-game warning on Shawnee Heights, the refs added nearly three seconds to the clock. The Thunderbirds fouled without time running off the clock, giving sophomore Raeshon Riddick a 1-and-1 with :03.3 left.
Riddick made the first, but missed the second, giving MHS a 48-46 lead. Barksdale grabbed the rebound, took two dribbles and lobbed the ball to White for the game-tying-buzzer-beating layup.
“On a miss like that, the main thing is to get the ball stopped, which we did,” George said. “I thought there wasn’t that much time left, but you know, they put :03.3 up there and you got to be good enough to prevent that from happening. I thought [junior Lawson Monaco] was in a good position, just, you know, it was a 1-in-1000 play and, they made it and we didn’t.”
With that, the momentum swung fully to Shawnee Heights’ side. The Thunderbirds jumped out to an early lead in overtime and never looked back, winning 62-57.
“It’s difficult, always, trying to swing that momentum,” Ostermann said, “especially when you’re on the road. Their student section really got into it, and that just made it even more difficult to gain some momentum back our way.”
The young Indians hope to bounce back from this game and use it as a learning experience as they host Topeka West (6-1, 3-1 Centennial League) on Friday.
“I think we’ll be able to learn from it and move on,” Ostermann said. “The biggest thing is just getting to the point where we can finish those hard fought games, especially on the road.”
At least, George hopes it will be.
“It could be if they’re willing to learn,” George said, “and that’s what we’re going to find out.”